Reps probe alleged N1.69tr railway contract scam
• There will be no sacred cows, says Dogara
• Tukur, Baraje, Shuni absolve selves
The House of Representatives has vowed not to spare any Nigerian, no matter how highly placed, found to be involved in the alleged N1.69 trillion contracts scam in the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, made the vow at the beginning of an investigative hearing by the adhoc committee set up to probe the Ministry of Transport and the NRC on the award of contracts for rehabilitation of rail tracks, maintenance of bridges and procurement/rehabilitation of coaches and locomotives.
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and other officials of the ministry who were expected to give details on the contract at the commencement of the session yesterday were absent. The minster was said to be attending to other official engagements outside Abuja.
Two former Chairmen of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Ambassador Bamanga Tukur and Kawu Baraje as well as a former Senator, Ladan Shuni, who appeared before the committee yesterday bluntly denied knowledge of any contracts awarded by them while they superintended over the NRC from 2010 to 2014 as Board chairmen at different periods.
In their separate submissions to the panel as former NRC Board chairmen, the trio urged the Jonathan Agbonayinma-led adhoc committee to rather beam its searchlight on the activities of the Ministry of Transport, with specific focus on the areas of value and volume of contracts awarded within the period and the contractors who executed them.
They urged the panel members that they were never involved in any contract award and were never invited to participate in issues of contract awards or financial disbursement. They advised the panel to invite officials of the ministry to respond to the issues of contract scam.
Dogara, who vowed that there would be no sacred cows, said his position was “ in line with the anti-corruption stance of the current All Progressives Congress (APC) government and the Legislative Agenda of the House.”
He urged the committee “to ensure that those responsible for the billions of US dollars spent on the contracts for rehabilitation and maintenance of rail tracks, construction of standard gauges, bridges, procurement of locomotive wagons and coaches from 2010 to 2014, answer to the value for money expectations of Nigerians.
“The committee must not only call a spade a spade but expose corruption and their perpetrators in the process, all those who have misappropriated or misapplied railways funds or assets.”
Dogara said “in line with our commitment to support the present administration in the ongoing war against corruption, the Ad- Hoc Committee must not fail to utilize it’s powers under S. 89(d) of the 1999 Constitution, should any person fail or refuse to respond to its summons.
“In such cases, referral should be made to the House to cause a bench warrant to be issued against such person so that those who are still in deep slumber may know that change has come to Nigeria.”
“The Constitution empowers us to compel the attendance of any person or authority in Nigeria, no matter how highly placed, a very potent tool. I assure you that this time around, no such person(s) will have a President to run to for a cover or protection from appearing before you to answer questions regarding allegations of corruption against him.